I’ll be the first to admit that I really like my tech gadgets, and even more so if they’re for photography or video. However, my most important requirement for tech is ease of use and manipulation. My multiple sclerosis has affected my grip strength and the dexterity in my hands, as well as my ability to hold anything up or steady that’s even remotely heavy. Given that I use a LOT of tech when I travel, I’ve been able to experiment with what works for me as a wheelchair and scooter user. And not all of it is pricey; you can get many of the items below for $20 or less. Not every wheelchair user will have the ability to use all of these items, but if you travel at all, consider each as a possible way to make your travels easier – and memories more easy to capture.
1. Variable voltage charger. I see a lot of questions on accessible travel forums regarding the use of chargers and adapters and converters when traveling abroad. Every powered mobility aid is different, of course, but many of them also already have chargers with variable voltage. This means that you can plug it into an outlet that varies from a lower voltage, like in the United States, to a higher voltage like that in Europe. All you would need is just the plug adapter (see #2). If your charger is only for one type of voltage, contact your manufacturer to see if you can attain a different one because it will save you the extreme hassle of lugging a very heavy and very expensive voltage converter with you during your travels. You can usually find the capacity of your charger on the main box about halfway down the cord. Look for something that says along the lines of 110V~240V.
2. International plug adapter. I need to be very clear here in my description. This is an ADAPTER, which only allows you to plug one shape into an outlet of a different shape. This is NOT a converter, which is expensive, heavy, and actually changes the voltage of electricity flowing through it. Adapters are inexpensive, and you can buy cube adapters that have prongs for use in over 100 countries. If you have a variable voltage power chair or scooter charger, you can use it with an adapter and nothing will blow up. You can also use it with small electronics like laptops, tablets, and cell phones. Don’t even think of using it with anything that belongs in the bathroom, like a hair dryer, shaver, or flat iron.
Make sure you can plug in your variable voltage power chair charger when you travel abroad! Here’s the international plug adapter I use: icyber Worldwide Travel Adapter
3. Selfie stick/tripod combo with remote. I know most of you don’t travel alone. However, wouldn’t it be nice to get a photo of all of you, especially if there’s no one else around? And sometimes you want to get a photo from a distance to include some pretty great scenery. I don’t know about you, but my baggage space is always at a premium, which means I need compact solutions. This is a compact and lightweight selfie stick that converts into a 40-inch tripod for those distance shots. And before you ask, it comes with its own shutter remote that connects to your phone or camera via Bluetooth.
Here’s the selfie stick/tripod combo I use with my (heavy) iPhone 7 Plus: Eocean 40-Inch Selfie Stick Tripod
4. A Gimbal. If you’re able to hold a phone up and take video yourself, you’re going to want one of these. If you’re traveling anywhere with cobblestones or uneven pavements, you’ll need one BADLY. A gimbal is basically a stabilizer that holds a phone or camera completely steady in one position no matter which way you turn or how much you get bumped around. You can check out this cool selfie video I shot while riding my scooter through Chinatown in Singapore. Gimbals come in different levels of quality and different weight limits for phones and cameras; the more weight you have, the more expensive the gimbal. However, you get what you pay for. If you want great videos with smooth panning and no vibration/shake, put a gimbal on your shopping list.
Here’s the gimbal I use with my (heavy) iPhone 7 Plus: Zhiyun Smooth 3 Multi-Function 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer for 6″ Smartphones
5. A tabletop tripod that grips. I only discovered this little piece of tech magic recently, and I’m SO glad I did. This strange-looking mini tripod has legs that bend and grip – meaning you can attach your phone to trees, poles, rocks, fences, and many other things that will help you get that perfect angle for a selfie photo or video. It’s also great for affixing your phone to a solid spot for a time lapse or slow motion video, too.
Here’s the GorillaPod version I use with my (heavy) iPhone 7 Plus: Joby JB01325 GripTight GorillaPod Stand For Large Phones
6. Cell phone camera lenses. Another thing I would recommend buying is a set of lenses for your cell phone. You can get both a wide-angle and fisheye lens that clips onto your phone over the camera eye, and other sizes are available as well. This will help capture so much more space behind you in your photos and video, and makes for amazing landscape shots. You can see some examples in photos I took in Auckland, New Zealand. They do add some weight to your phone, which may or may not affect how your phone works with a gimbal. Most likely you’ll need to take your phone case off to slip on the lens over the phone camera, but not always; it just depends on the size and shape of your case.
Here are the lenses I use on my iPhone 7 Plus: Phone Camera Lens,Hizek 0.36X Super Wide Angle Lens+15X Macro Lens+230°Fisheye Lens 3 in 1 HD Cell Phone Camera Lens Kit.
7. Backup battery/power bank. Probably the worst power-based thing you can have die on you during a trip is your wheelchair. However, the second worst thing is likely your cell phone. You don’t want your battery to die right before you see something that is incredibly picture or video worthy. But more importantly, your cell phone is your lifeline if you need security assistance or medical help. Personally, I use a 22,000mAh Tiergrade power bank that has two USB outlets. It charges up my iPhone 7+ from 10% to 100% in about half an hour, and you can get roughly 5 or 6 complete charges depending on the phone you have. You can also get two or three full charges for an iPad or similar device. Of course, there are a variety of power banks with different capacities and different prices. My advice would be to stick with 30,000mAh or lower because there are airline restrictions on what capacity power banks you can bring on the plane.
My power bank has been discontinued, but here’s a very highly rated and reasonably priced equivalent: Portable Chargers RAVPower 22000mAh Portable Phone Charger
8. A drone. Okay, folks…no one NEEDS a drone. Unless you’re a professional travel blogger (like me) or videographer, drones are generally an expensive hobby. However, if you’re ready to step up your travel video game, take a look into a travel-sized model with a small learning curve and great reviews/reputation. Then you can get AMAZING videos like this one I shot at Piha Beach in New Zealand! Of course, with a great drone comes great responsibility. You need to be aware of drone laws and flight rules in every place you visit, or else you’ll have to pay a hefty fine and possibly have your drone seized by customs. But I promise you, the reading, research, and practice are worth it!
After endless hours of research and inquiries to fellow drone users, here’s the make and model I chose (and am totally in love with): DJI Mavic Pro Drone Quadcopter Fly More Combo
Are you ready to book your next accessible adventure where you can use some of this awesome tech? Contact me at Spin the Globe/Travel and we’ll make it happen!
Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I have experienced all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.